No matter how deep the extent of religious belief, no matter which vein of faith someone ascribes to, people are hard-pressed to enter a cathedral without an expression of disbelief, a "wow," or a jaw drop. The effects of the massive architecture, and combination of building, stained glass, sculpture, painting, gold work and marble are easily overwhelming. It could be said that cathedrals are among the earliest successful large-scale multi-media works. The combination of materials and of media is designed to create a lasting and powerful expression, the buildings stand as symbols.
Here I leave the stand path, for cathedrals are more than symbols for their own religion, they are symbols of artistic inspiration. What is it that could inspire man to push the bounds of technological innovation and artistic creation to create giant buildings so fantastic and lasting? The answer is belief. Not necessarily belief in the divine however, because artistically this can be simplified to strong belief in something.
While aestheticism is important, the best works of art have meaning. An artist conveys true meaning in a piece only if he or she truly has a strong belief, be it in a cause, idea, religion, philosophy or beyond.
For cathedrals this belief is obviously a religious one, and that is reinforced by their purpose and iconography. Despite lack of relevant religious belief to that of most cathedrals here in Europe, I can marvel at the artistic achievement both for the fantastic accomplishment and for accurate expression of intense belief.
Belief is a guiding factor in art, as it leads to sincerity and authenticity in artistic creation, as well as high levels of inspiration. Cathedrals seem to be some of the earliest examples, and it continues to this day. Here's some photos from that cathedral in Zagreb, Croatia.
Photos to come